I’m a meat eater but I like to try to have a couple of vegetarian days a week. I feel more balanced when I don’t eat too much of any one thing. The husband is a little less thrilled about vegetarian meals than I am so I have to make sure the dishes are substantial and hearty or he’ll be in the kitchen looking for a snack as soon as he puts down his fork. I’ve had to get creative! This one is a winner!
This meal can take center stage and hold it’s own next to any meat filled main course. Buttery acorn squash, hearty wild rice, crunchy vegetables, apricots, pumpkin seeds and warming spices will taste good on your tongue and it will make your kitchen smell like happiness. The flavors are reminiscent of stuffing at Thanksgiving (my recipe anyway). If you’re like me and your kitchen wouldn’t know a sharp knife if one came crashing through the window, then you can relax – we cook the squash whole in this recipe! Save your fingers and a trip to the emergency room by cutting in to the squash after it’s cooked. Is it conceited if I call myself genius? Probably, but I don’t care. This is a good one!
Sometimes I serve it topped with a dollop of hummus, half an avocado or a fried egg (or a combo of two!). So satisfying I’ve even eaten the leftovers for breakfast!
2 whole acorn squash
1 cup Lundberg Wild Rice blend
1 cup Apple Cider or 1 cup water + 1 medium apple diced
3/4 cup of water
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup organic raw shelled pumpkin seeds
8 organic turkish apricots, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp dried basil leaves
black pepper and salt to taste
optional: 1 tbsp of butter for each squash half
Turn oven to 375 degrees. Wash the skin of your acorn squash, dry and then put on a cookie sheet and carefully place in the oven (they might try to roll around). It’s okay if the oven isn’t fully heated yet. Cook the squash for 45 minutes, then check it for doneness. You should be able to insert a knife easily into it’s flesh. If still firm, keep cooking until soft. When done, let cool for a few minutes, slice in half and then scoop out the seeds and fibrous membranes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
While the squash is cooking, bring the apple cider (or chopped apple & extra water) & water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour in the wild rice, return to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low so it simmers. Cook for 45 minutes then turn off the heat and leave the cover on for a few more minutes.
When the rice is almost done cooking, heat a large skillet to medium heat, add the olive oil and when oil is hot saute the onion, celery, bell pepper and poblano peppers until they begin to soften. Add sage, basil and allspice and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped apricots and pumpkin seeds and add the rice when it’s done cooking. Fill each acorn squash half with 3/4 – 1 cup of the rice and vegetable mixture. I like to place a tablespoon of pastured butter (try Kerrygold if you don’t have a local source) in each squash half before filling with the rice mixture. This is optional of course, but it adds a lot of flavor and richness which will keep your satisfied for hours. This meal is vegan if you leave it out.
Pop the filled squash back in the oven for 10 minutes or so just to warm the squash back up. Enjoy!
Makes 4 servings.